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25 years of offering summer employment opportunities for youth that also help the environment

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Surrey BC | City of Surrey’s Salmon Habitat Restoration Program (SHaRP) and Surrey’s Natural Areas Partnership (SNAP) are celebrating notable anniversaries in offering summer youth employment opportunities that build awareness and training in environmental stewardship. Collectively, the programs have employed over 880 students, who have received training in environmental restoration practices such as removing invasive plants, installing instream complexing features in waterways, and planting.

“I’m very proud to continue Surrey’s tradition of employing our youth as environmental stewards,” says Mayor McCallum. “Not only do the students receive hands-on environmental field skills training, but they also develop skills in leadership, teamwork, and communications, which will help them in any future career endeavor. These programs no doubt shape the environmental leaders of the future.”

Over its 25 years, SHaRP has employed over 665 students and dedicated over 254,000 stewardship hours toward watershed sustainability and healthy salmon habitats. Efforts have included revitalizing over 2,625 instream sites within Surrey; delivering over 1,000 presentations at community‑based events, day camps, libraries and schools; and educating over 9,000 homeowners and businesses in environmental protection.

SNAP has employed over 215 students over the past 20 years, collectively educating over 185,000 residents through community outreach. Together, students have removed 3,421 m3 of invasive plants from eight hectares of parkland and restored over 4,646 tree wells. SNAP is a partnership between the City and non-profit organizations including Green Timbers Heritage Society, which administers the program, the Sunnyside Acres Heritage Society and the White Rock and Surrey Naturalists Society.

Continuing this legacy, 35 youth are being hired for the 2020 season through these programs. Youth will soon be removing invasive plants, maintaining shade trees in parks, restoring waterways for salmon habitat across the City, and carrying out community outreach. This year, in addition to sites throughout the City, the students will be working on two collaborative projects focusing on the restoration and enhancement of Hyland Creek Park and Walnut Park.

Surrey604 is an online magazine and media outlet based in Surrey, BC. Through writing, video, photography, and social media, we secure an intimate reach to the public. We promote local events and causes.

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New Surrey Police Board no substitute for referendum and public input: Councillor Linda Annis

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Surrey, B.C. Councillor Linda Annis is congratulating the members of the new Surrey police board for wanting to serve the community, but says the board is no substitute for a referendum on policing. The board is meeting today for the first time.

“I always applaud anyone who wants to serve the community, but we could have had this board with the RCMP, and frankly the board is no substitute for a referendum that gives the people of Surrey the final say on who will police our city,” said Annis. “The entire police transition process continues to ignore the people of Surrey and with the mayor as chair of the board, I expect the lack of transparency to continue.”

Annis said policing is the single biggest budget item for the city, and the fact that residents have been completely left out of the process is frustrating and dividing the community.

“The transition budget tops $129 million, money we don’t have, and a police force that more and more residents don’t want,” noted Annis. “Board members can see the frustration right across the community in the lawn signs going up across the city and the nearly 50,000 signatures on the petition supporting the RCMP. To ignore the community is completely tone deaf and no way to start a city police force.”

Annis also believes that all of the board members should have come from the community.

“We have nearly 600,000 people in Surrey, surely we could have found nine people from our city to sit on the board, rather than including people who don’t call Surrey home,” Annis added.

Annis said she is also disappointed that the provincial government has ignored the concerns of Surrey voters throughout the transition. “The province could insist on a referendum, instead they are standing back and watching as Doug McCallum and his remaining Safe Surrey councillors completely disregard Surrey residents,” added Annis.

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Seeds of Change Surrey partnership addresses COVID-19 food security challenges

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SURREY, BC | In partnership with Seeds of Change Surrey, the City of Surrey is proud to support the launch of two new food security programs that will address the challenges many residents are facing as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Seeds of Change Surrey secured $77,000 in funding through the United Way of the Lower Mainland, in addition to in-kind support from the City of Surrey.

“Having access to affordable and healthy groceries during COVID-19 is essential for our community,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “Together with the Seeds of Change Surrey organization, we are mobilizing resources to support residents in meeting their everyday food needs as well as building community food systems resilience. On behalf of Seeds of Change, I would like to thank the United Way for their support on such an important project.”

Seeds of Change Surrey will immediately implement two programs to address food access challenges:

Seeds of Change Surrey Food Box (SOX BOX)

SOX BOX will assist those requiring food support through a systems-level coordinated grocery box approach. Food will be sourced, sorted and distributed to community organizations throughout Surrey, targeting households in need through neighbourhood pick-up locations or community agency locations. This program is complementary to the existing emergency food programs in Surrey and adds the greatly needed inter-agency coordination required to see more residents fed.

Yard to Garden Program

Yard to Garden is an initiative that supports residents in transforming their yards into gardens with the goal of growing more food and feeding more people locally. Participants are provided the materials needed to volunteer in growing vegetables at home. When possible, gardeners are asked to donate their excess harvest to local food banks and community organizations. Materials provided to participants include soil, seeds, educational resources, and gardening support.

The first food box deliveries under the SOX BOX program took place on July 25, and the Yard to Garden program is scheduled to launch August 4, with registration opening on July 31, 2020. To ensure that the greatest impact can be realized over the growing season, and while the pandemic continues to effect residents’ income, Seeds of Change Surrey intends to have these programs in operation until October 2020, with the ability to extend as needed.

City staff continue to work closely with Seeds of Change Surrey to explore collaborative approaches that address building community food system resilience citywide for all Surrey residents.

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Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment Program sees success in diverting vulnerable children and youth from gangs

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SURREY, BC | The Surrey Anti-Gang Family Empowerment (SAFE) Program launched in January 2019, with a proactive approach to addressing youth gang involvement. Supported by $7.5M in federal funding distributed over five years, the program is delivered by 10 partner agencies to address previous service gaps in diverting children and youth away from gangs.

“We are committed to keeping Surrey’s youth safe and engaged through preventable programming that will address the source of underlying problems that lead to gang involvement,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “With the release of today’s data, we know we are on track to create a healthy community where everyone has the chance to thrive and reach their full potential.”

As of March 2020, a total of 1515 vulnerable Surrey residents have been offered supports through SAFE. This includes 1292 children and youth and 223 parents and caregivers. 216 of these clients were also connected to culturally sensitive services, such as counselling, in their preferred language.

As of June 2020, the Children & Youth At-Risk Table concluded 69 cases, meaning the risk for involvement in gangs for each of these young people was successfully de-escalated. SAFE is also on track to meet its five-year target of supporting 4700 children and youth at-risk for gang involvement. The full success of the SAFE Program will be officially evaluated in 2024.

Recently, a virtual support group for South Asian parents was created to compliment programming, and preparations are underway for a virtual presentation series, as well as a civil forfeiture grant application (E2) designed to engage youth and empower parents. For more information about the SAFE Program, visit www.surrey.ca/safe.

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Surrey Should Look To UBC Properties Trust as Model for its Lands

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Selling off city land means selling off our future: Councillor Linda Annis

Surrey First Councillor Linda Annis says she is increasingly worried that the mayor’s recent decision to disband the Surrey City Development Corporation (SCDC) and bring it inside city hall will lead to the eventual sale of city land, rather than leveraging the land through long-term leases that generate ongoing revenue for Surrey, while retaining ownership.

Rather than selling off city land, Annis said Surrey should be looking at the UBC Properties Trust model which generates ongoing revenue through long-term leases, while UBC continues to own its land.

“We can learn a lot from the UBC model which typically leases for 99 years. In the process UBC takes home a big dividend each year, giving the university an ongoing and sustainable stream of new revenue,” explained Annis. “In fact, since its inception in 1988, the trust has endowed UBC with $2 billion.”

Annis said land is the City of Surrey’s most valuable city asset and needs to be protected for future generations.

“We have only so much city land and when it’s gone it’s gone,” noted Annis. “Today our land portfolio is worth some $250 million, and we should be leasing it, rather than selling it for a quick hit of cash that does nothing for the future of our city.”

Annis said selling off the city’s land is both short-sighted and a poor business model. “Over the past seven years, SCDC has paid the city $36 million in dividends and has a cumulative surplus of $46 million for reinvestment in future projects,” said Annis.

Annis said she will introduce a notice of motion at the virtual city council meeting on July 27 that calls for one of the major accounting and consulting firms to review Surrey’s land portfolio and make business model recommendations that leverage the land through leasing, rather than selling it.

“We need a model that puts our land to work, but keeps it owned by the people of Surrey,” said Annis. “The UBC Properties Trust model is certainly worth looking at and its results for UBC are terrific and long lasting,” explained Annis. “I worry that when our land is inside city hall it also becomes vulnerable to politics, where it becomes too easy to simply sell off our land as a knee-jerk decision or way to solve a temporary issue such as a deficit.

“Our city’s land assets belong to everyone in Surrey, including future generations,” added Annis. “Every Surrey city council should be looking to make sure we hold onto our land for generations to come. When we own our land we have options, opportunities and dividends for years to come. But, when that land is sold we get one cheque and that’s it, it’s gone for good.”

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Surrey launches Enjoy Summer in Surrey campaign encouraging residents to discover local outdoor amenities

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Surrey, BC – The City of Surrey is encouraging residents to play local and stay local with the new Enjoy Summer in Surrey campaign, aimed at highlighting the many low-cost and free outdoor activities available across one of Canada’s most livable cities.

“As we all do our part to limit the spread of COVID-19 this summer, we are fortunate that we live in a city that has so many outdoor activities and amenities for all to enjoy,” said Mayor Doug McCallum. “I invite everyone to explore Surrey’s urban forests, nature trails and parks, while staying active and healthy with your family. We don’t have to go far to re-discover and enjoy beautiful BC this summer. It’s all here at our doorstep.”

A centralized hub, surrey.ca/summerinsurrey is available to help residents plan their staycation, highlighting local water sports, shoreline walks, unique picnic spots and nature trails, as well as outdoor fitness and outdoor sports amenities in Surrey.

This public campaign includes informing residents of weekly location and activity highlights through surrey.ca, social media, news & updates, digital billboard ads and local transit shelter ads. Residents are encouraged to share their favourite location and activity ideas using the hashtag #mycityofsurrey.

While Enjoying Summer in Surrey, we can all do our part in keeping our community, public spaces, and each other safe by taking proper health measures by observing physical distancing, having your own hand sanitizer, and staying home if sick.

For more information, and to watch the Enjoy Summer in Surrey video go to www.surrey.ca/summerinsurrey

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